The Laker-Land O' Lakes/Lutz-Nov. 12, 2014

Page 14

Community Sports Your Neighborhood Sports Source

Playoff foe awaits district champ Sunlake By Michael Murillo

Playoff Schedule

mmurillo@lakerlutznews.com

Each year, high school football teams enter the season with specific goals. Some achieve them, and others fall short. For Sunlake High School, the goal since the school’s inception has been to claim a district title. And every year they’ve fallen short of that goal. Until this year. The Seahawks survived a three-way tiebreaker on Nov. 3 that had teams playing one quarter of football against each other to determine a winner.As a result, they’ll enter the playoffs with the title of district champion of Class 6A-District 6, an accomplishment that’s not lost on head coach Bill Browning. “It’s very gratifying.The kids worked very hard for it,” said Browning, who has been with the school since it opened in 2007. Back then, the team was essentially a junior varsity squad, he said, and were out-matched at every turn. But over the years, Browning and his staff have built a successful program, finally claiming that elusive district title this season. As a result, Browning let himself enjoy the moment. For a few hours, anyway. By the next morning, it was on to game preparations, and getting his team prepared for the games in front of them. “You meet one challenge and then you go on to the next challenge,” he said.“That’s the competitive nature.” The challenge in the playoffs will be a home tilt against Vanguard High School on Nov. 14. Located in Ocala, the Knights don’t seem too formidable on paper.They’re just 4-5 on the season, and claimed a playoff spot as runner-up in District 5 with a 2-2 record. They were 1-4 on the road, and gave up an average of nearly 47 points in their five losses. But Browning and the Seahawks won’t make any assumptions with regard to Vanguard.They’ve faced them in the playoffs before, winning a close contest, and know that any team that makes the postseason has talent. To be successful, Sunlake will rely on the players like Naejaun Jackson, a running back and receiver who has given the offense a spark in the second half of the season. Browning described Jackson as the “lightning” to running back Nathan Johnson’s “thunder.” While the experience of entering the playoffs as a district champion is a new experience for Sunlake, it’s nothing new for Browning.A high school coach for 25 years,

Nov. 14 • Vanguard at Sunlake, 7:30 p.m. • Zephyrhills at Suwannee, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 If Sunlake (8-2) wins, Seahawks take on winner of Mitchell (6-4) at Gainesville (5-5). If Zephyrhills (8-2) wins, Bulldogs take on winner of North Marion (8-2) at South Sumter (10-0).

FRED BELLET/PHOTO

Sunlake High School junior Nick Valdes, left, and the rest of the Seahawks hope to make the most of their first playoff berth as district champions.

he also earned district titles for Springstead High School and Hernando High School before taking the job to start the Seahawks’ program from scratch. But this one is special, in part because his biggest fan isn’t here to watch the games anymore. His father, Maurice, passed away this past summer at age 95. During his son’s tenure the older Browning attended every Sunlake football game. In the last contest he saw, the spring classic game, Browning’s father saw the team that would eventually earn the school its first district title. And his assessment of his son’s team at the time? “After the classic, his words to me were, ‘You’ve got your work cut out for you,’” Browning recalled. After a lot of hard work, Sunlake is not only a district champion for the first time, but a playoff host as well. Browning hopes those advantages will help the team go farther this year than during previous campaigns. “The farthest we’ve gotten is the second

round in the playoffs,” Browning said.‘That’s our goal now, to go farther than any Sunlake team has.” While Sunlake has been able to console themselves with playoff runs while they sought a district title, it was a different story for Zephyrhills High School. But they snapped an eight-year playoff drought with their own tie-breaker game, and will head to the playoffs as the Class 5A-District 7 runner-up. While the Bulldogs can be proud of accomplishing a major goal for 2014, there’s just one problem:The actual playoffs haven’t even started yet. So now what? “You feel really good for a short time, but you know you’ve got to get back to work and start over,” Zephyrhills coach Reggie Roberts said.“Our objective is not just to get there. It’s to perform once we get to the playoffs.” Soon after he was drenched in a celebratory bath from the water cooler, Roberts already was thinking of the Bulldogs’ playoff strategy.

PREP SPORTS BOARD CHECK

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7A-7 FOOTBALL STANDINGS Team W L T ySickles 7 3 0 Gaither 7 3 0 Freedom 6 4 0 zTampa Bay Tech 5 5 0 Steinbrenner 3 6 1 Wiregrass Ranch 4 6 0

PF 258 245 166 187 174 192

PA 187 167 128 250 199 268

6A-6 FOOTBALL STANDINGS Team W L T ySunlake 8 2 0 zMitchell 6 4 0 Springstead 6 4 0 Land O’ Lakes 4 6 0 Fivay 2 8 0

PF 267 229 131 275 219

PA 62 196 95 269 322

5A-7 FOOTBALL STANDINGS Team W L T yRiver Ridge 9 1 0 zGulf 8 2 0 Hudson 6 4 0 Wesley Chapel 2 8 0 Ridgewood 2 8 0 Anclote 0 10 0

PF 336 330 288 151 157 113

PA 143 275 273 309 317 351

5A-6 FOOTBALL STANDINGS Team W L T ySouth Sumter 10 0 0 zZephyrhills 8 2 0 Pasco 6 4 0 Nature Coast Tech 6 4 0 Central 2 8 0 Hernando 3 6 0 Weeki Wachee 1 9 0

PF 404 388 255 282 92 155 126

PA 79 196 165 184 303 243 361

y-clinched district title, z-clinched district runner-up

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 5 Boys Soccer Mitchell 3, Pasco 1 Sunlake 9, Ridgewood 1 THURSDAY, NOV. 6 Boys Soccer Sunlake 8, Zephyrhills 0 Freedom 3, King 2

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FRIDAY, NOV. 7 Football Freedom 18, Riverview 13 Jefferson 33, Steinbrenner 19 Lecanto 32, Land O’ Lakes 27 River Ridge 28, Pasco 25 Wiregrass Ranch 13, Wesley Chapel 10 Zephyrhills 22, Sunlake 7 MONDAY, NOV. 10 Boys Soccer Gaither at Steinbrenner, 6 p.m. Girls Soccer Gaither at Steinbrenner, 8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12 Girls Basketball Steinbrenner at Riverview, 7 p.m. Boys Soccer Anclote at Pasco, 6 p.m. Sickles at Freedom, 6 p.m. Steinbrenner at Durant, 7 p.m. Sunlake at Wesley Chapel, 7:30 p.m. Wiregrass Ranch at Land O’ Lakes, 7:30 p.m. THURSDAY, NOV. 13 Boys Soccer Citrus Park Christian at Sunlake, 6 p.m. Jefferson at Steinbrenner, 6 p.m. Wiregrass Ranch at Gaither, 6 p.m. Girls Soccer Jefferson at Steinbrenner, 8 p.m. FRIDAY, NOV. 14 Football Gulf at Lakewood, 7:30 p.m. Mitchell at Gainesville, 7:30 p.m. North Marion at South Sumter, 7:30 p.m. Plant City at Sickles, 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Tech at Durant, 7:30 p.m. Tarpon Springs at River Ridge, 7:30 p.m. Vanguard at Sunlake, 7:30 p.m. Zephyrhills at Suwannee, 7:30 p.m. Jefferson at Steinbrenner, 7 p.m.

Source: MaxPreps.com, various

www.LakerLutzNews.com

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THIS OUT

SUNLAKE VOLLEYBALL WINS REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

The Sunlake Seahawks volleyball team made the playoffs for the first time in school history, but they didn’t stop there. Their first regional tournament was a success, defeating Weeki Wachee and Hernando to reach the finals.There, they defeated Bellevue in a tough five-set match on Nov. 8 to claim the regional title and move on to the state semifinals. The Seahawks (25-5) face Merritt Island (23-7) on Nov. 13. If they win, it’s on to the Class 5A state championship the next day, where they’d face the winner of Jacksonville’s Bishop Kenny and Tampa’s Robinson.

CLAY SHOOTING, HOCKEY FUNDRAISERS IN NOVEMBER

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay will host two fundraisers in November. There will be a clay shooting competition Nov. 15 at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays, 10514 Ehren Cutoff in Land O’ Lakes. The event begins at 9 a.m., and the cost is $100 per individual or $400 for a team of four.To register, visit BBBSFl.org. There will be a hockey tournament Nov. 28 to Nov. 30 at Tampa Bay Skating Academy, 255 Forest Lakes Blvd., in Oldsmar. Goalies must be at least 45 years old and other players must be at least 50 years old. The cost is $75 per player. To register, visit GoalsForCause.Kintera.org.

SOCCER LEAGUE REGISTRATION OPEN

The Greater Tampa Bay Football Club is now accepting registrations for its fall and

And Zephyrhills isn’t expecting a warm welcome in their return to the postseason. Their first match-up will be Nov. 14 at Live Oak to face Suwannee High School, a team that didn’t need any tiebreakers to qualify for the playoffs. With a perfect 9-0 overall record headed into their final regular season game, Suwannee dominated District 5 with a 6-0 mark.The Bulldogs finished at 9-1 after a 42-14 loss to Columbia High School from Lake City. The team — also nicknamed the Bulldogs — has held opponents to seven points or less four separate times, while being held under 30 themselves just once. The key to the Zephyrhills’ success, according to Roberts, will be not changing things just because it’s the playoffs. From coaching to practice to execution, he wants his team to utilize the same strengths that helped them reach the postseason. “We have to go with what got us there, and we have to do what we’ve done all year long,” he said. “We have to play consistent football on both sides of the ball.” Roberts knows first-hand the importance of ending the season strong. As an all-state linebacker for Zephyrhills, he made the playoffs in his senior season back in 1989. His defensive coordinator, Booker Pickett, also was on that team. But they lost their playoff game, a match-up Roberts still remembers well and thinks they could have won. He doesn’t want his team ending their year with a feeling that they could have done more in the postseason, and his focus is on getting them as prepared as possible to be successful. But Roberts also wants them to enjoy the moment the way he did when he played in the postseason, and appreciate the special atmosphere. “The crowd, it was so packed there was no room to sit,” Roberts recalled. “It was tremendous. It was like a college atmosphere. It was great small-town football. “That’s why you want to get there. To create those memories.” winter soccer league. The league is open to boys and girls in north Hillsborough and Pasco counties from ages 5-19. Each team will have one practice day per week, and a game on Saturdays. Practices and games will be at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex, 3032 Collier Parkway. To register, visit GTBFC.com. For information, call Frank Coorey at (727) 423-8886, or email fcoorey@verizon.net.

YOUTH TENNIS CLASSES AT LAKE PADGETT ESTATES

Tennis 4 u/Tennis Para Ti will begin new youth entry-level tennis classes starting in November. The classes are in addition to the group’s existing ranked junior and adults training, and will be at Lake Padgett Estates Athletic Complex, 4533 Savannah Way in Land O’ Lakes. The classes will be Wednesdays at 4:15 p.m., for ages 5-7, and at 5 p.m., for ages 810.The four-week schedule costs $35 to $40 for residents of Lake Padgett Estates, and $45 to $50 for non-residents. For information, call coach Jeanette Marcus at (813) 417-0061, or email jmarcusddm@gmail.com.

ZEPHYRHILLS SWIM TEAM GOLF TOURNEY

The Zephyrhills High School swim team will host a golf tournament Nov. 15 at the Silverado Golf & Country Club, 36841 Clubhouse Drive in Zephyrhills. The event will benefit the team and the Taylor Sanders Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Sanders is a Zephyrhills swimmer with the disease. The cost is $65 per person, or a foursome for $240.The cost includes golf, cart and a barbecue lunch. Shotgun start at 8:30 a.m. For information, call Vanessa Sanders at (813) 546-2756, email dickeys294mkt@gmail.com or visit GolfSilverado.com.